3-D Printing + Indigenous Artwork = Salt?

You might remember us hinting at the future use of a 3-D printer a while back… Well, after almost 200 hours of scan, print and build time, we’re ready to show you the results! Contemporary artist Duane Linklater collaborated with the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library using the library’s new 3-D printing equipment for his new exhibition opening this week at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

Raven Mask, Northwest Coast, Kwakiutl people, early 20th century, pigment on wood from the UMFA collection, alongside a 3-D printed version courtesy of the Marriott Library.

Northwest Coast, Kwakwaka’wakw peoples. Raven Mask. Early-twentieth century. Pigment and metal on wood, The Ulfert Wilke Collection, purchased with funds from Friends of the Art Museum, UMFA1981.016.002, alongside Linklater’s 3-D printed version courtesy the Marriott Library.

The Ontario-based artist, an Omaskêko Cree from Moose Cree First Nation, is the eleventh artist in the UMFA’s ongoing salt series of semi-annual exhibitions showcasing work by emerging artists from around the world. salt 11: Duane Linklater opens this Friday, February 27 and will be on view through August 2. The artist will discuss his work with Whitney Tassie, UMFA’s curator of modern and contemporary art, in a free event at 5 pm tomorrow, February 26.

salt 11 jpeg

Linklater’s salt 11 show features 3-D printed plastic sculptures of three-dimensional objects and photographic copies of textiles from the UMFA’s American Indian collection to honor unknown indigenous artists and draw attention to the way their works of art are transformed when presented in museums.


“Working with the Marriott Library’s Student Computing Services staff on this project was ideal,” says Tassie. “Their 3-D printing facilities are relatively new, but their staff is extremely knowledgeable—and they even acquired new technology to accommodate the artist’s needs.”


Much of the work was completed by MUSE interns supervised by library staff. Using a 3-D scanner they created digital copies of the original objects on-site at the UMFA. For larger objects that required multiple scans, they used 3-D modeling software to combine the scans and then sliced them into pieces for printing inside a very limited build space, says T. J. Ferrill, the library’s IT supervisor. Once printed, the pieces were recombined into their original forms—a process that required 24 separate builds and a combined print time of 190 hours.


Linklater’s copying process physically expresses the loss of information—authorship, origin, cultural significance, and so on—that occurs as an indigenous work of art is translated into an ethnographic museum object.


See you tomorrow night!

(Images courtesy J. Willard Marriott Library)

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